Pakistan, India among
110 countries invited
by Biden to summit

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WASHINGTON: The US President Joe Biden has invited around 110 countries to a virtual summit on democracy in December, including major Western allies but also Iraq, India and Pakistan, according to a list posted on the State Department website on Tuesday.

China, the United States’ principal rival, is not invited, while Taiwan is — a move that risks angering Beijing. Turkey, which like America is a member of Nato, is also missing from the list of participants.

Among the countries of the Middle East, only Israel and Iraq will take place in the online conference. Traditional Arab allies of the US — Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates — are not invited.

Biden invited Brazil even though its far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro has been criticised as having an authoritarian bent and was a firm supporter of Donald Trump.

US President Joe Biden

In Europe, Poland was invited to the summit despite persistent tension with the European Union over its human rights record. Hungary, led by hardline nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban, was not invited.

The conference was a campaign pledge by the US president, who has placed the struggle between democracies and “autocratic governments” at the heart of his foreign policy.

The “Summit for Democracy” will take place online on December 9 and 10 ahead of an in-person meeting at its second edition next year.

In announcing the summit back in August, the White House said the meeting would “galvanise commitments and initiatives across three principal themes: defending against authoritarianism, fighting corruption, and promoting respect for human rights”.